Don't Ever Change
Kairi sighed and added some cadmium red to her latest drawing. They were just flowers; plain, thoughtless flowers; maybe even a little childish in style. Returning to the island with Sora and Riku was supposed to make everything better. Days filled with tropical sunshine and rainbows and kittens and good things like that. Instead, Kairi couldn't remember a time when she had felt this sad. The blossoming relationship she'd wanted to nurture and bloom was beginning to wilt ever so slightly already. It was back to the way it always was on the islands. Nothing changed, not even Sora.
"Sora, don't ever change."
She wished she had bitten her tongue and held those words in her throat. She regretted them, if nothing else. They meant Sora could never be anything more than her friend. That's what it seemed like he intended to be as well. When they met in The World That Never Was, Kairi had suddenly had this vision of them running into each other's arms, like in a movie or a romance novel. However, Sora just shuffled about awkwardly, torn between jumping in with his whole being and stepping back. It was like there were equal parts of him tearing him two ways – one wanted to love Kairi the way she wanted to be loved while the other just wanted to stay friends.
She sighed, flipped over a completed page of flowers and started to draw more flowers on the next page in her new sketchbook. She'd been so taken by drawing since her return from The World That Never Was. It was probably because of her Nobody Naminé, an avid artist. Kairi was always quite good with fine technical skills like this (at least better than Sora was) but she didn't have the passion for it. Now it just came naturally… too naturally.
She pointed her toes to skim the surface of the waves as they rolled in under the jetty on her small island. She'd only done one pink flower before she looked up to the main island. She'd refused to come back to the little playing island until she remembered Sora, now she refused to leave unless Sora brought her back. It was still quite early in the day so there was plenty of time. A boat was approaching from the distance but she could see that it wasn't Sora on board. In fact, there were three people on board: Tidus, Selphie and Wakka.
Kairi sighed again and closed her sketchbook, putting her pencils back in their tin in colour order. She didn't really like those three. They were noisy. Noisy and silly. Well, Sora was silly but never as noisy as they were. Riku was neither; he was the absolute opposite of practically everyone on the islands. He was more like her and sometimes Kairi wondered if he was actually from another world too. Not only was the colour of his hair strange compared to others, the pallor of his skin was too. Whenever Sora or the other three spent copious hours in the sun they came back with a burn that only lasted one afternoon and the next day it developed into a clean tan. For Kairi and Riku, the sunburn stung for days and caused their skin to peel and flake. It was a particular problem for Riku because he liked to be outdoors and in the sun and was noticed for spending a lot of time by the Paupu palm tree – in the sun it should be noted. For the amount of time Sora spent sleeping in the sun, his tan was actually quite weak, but then again, he also spent a lot of time in the cave or in the cubby houses and in the shade and always insisted on sitting on the shadier end of the Paupu trunk. Wakka had the best tan. He was like Riku in that he was always standing in the sun. Tidus was similar to Sora, preferring to spend time in the shade or at least in the shadier places when he could. Selphie was also a quite fair-skinned but for a different reason. She envied Kairi and Riku for their pink lips and rosy cheeks and their pale complexions and the smooth illusion of porcelain given by their fair skin. She would apply sunscreen regularly and practically caked it on. But she was never diligent enough to stay in the shade all the time to complete the whitening and while the sunscreen kept her somewhat fairer, she could never match Kairi or Riku.
"Hey, Kairi! What's up?" Tidus yelled. Kairi just smiled and stood up as Tidus lassoed a rope around a post on their tiny pier. He grinned at her and Kairi supposed he'd thought she would be impressed that he could throw a rope over a wooden post with a fair deal of accuracy.
"Get over yourself," she thought bitterly. It wasn't a hard thing to do and she'd seen Sora and Riku do much more impressive things. Although to be fair, if they were to have a competition to see who would actually miss the post with the rope, Sora would probably be the one to do it.
"When'd you get out here?" Wakka asked as he jumped out of the boat.
"This morning," Kairi replied. "It was still kinda dark out."
"Wow, you've been here all this time?" Selphie said in awe, stepping onto the pier ahead of Tidus, who seemed slightly annoyed. "What did you do all this time by yourself? Were you drawing again?"
"Cool! Can I see?"
"Yeah, okay." Kairi handed over her sketchbook and Selphie excitedly flipped through the pages upon pages of flowers drawn in the book. Nothing but flowers. Yet Selphie wasn't deterred. She was never deterred.
"Where's Sora?" Tidus asked. Kairi waited for a moment, wondering if he was going to ask about Riku but when he just looked at her expectantly she assumed he wasn't going to ask.
"I don't know, I've been here all day. I was hoping one of you would tell me where he is."
Selphie looked up from yet another picture of flowers briefly to shrug her shoulders. "These flowers are really good by the way. I wish I could draw like this."
However, Wakka looked a bit apprehensive. "He's at home."
Kairi turned her attention to him and was only slightly aware of Tidus' annoyance at being the one ignored while the other got to engage in some form of conversation.
"Why?" Kairi asked. Wasn't he going to come and get her?
"Haven't you been paying attention?" Tidus said, trying to get her attention back.
Tidus knew what was going on? Kairi was a bit perturbed at the thought that Tidus knew what it meant if Sora was at home and she didn't.
"He's got issues with the family and all, ya," Wakka explained.
"Who does?" Selphie asked, closing the book upon viewing the final picture and coming in to stand with the group.
"Sora does," Tidus replied. "He hasn't been settling in well."
"Settling in from what?" Wakka inquired. He and Selphie both gave Tidus suspicious glares. Kairi's concerned stare was milder but also suspicious.
"Whatever's gotten him so worked up, obviously," Tidus answered as if that were common knowledge. Everyone else sighed and glared at him for getting their curiosities whet.
"What's the problem?" asked Selphie.
"How should I know? I didn't even know where he was. Wakka, you tell us."
Wakka looked at his feet and scratched the back of his head. "I don't know how much right I really have to tell you something like this, but I think it's mainly with his sister."
"His sister and your brother still hang out?" Selphie interrupted. "That's so cute! They are so going to get together when they're older."
"That's beside the point," Wakka said. "Anyway, my bro reckons that Sunni's real peeved 'cause Sora's ignoring her or something. Somehow he doesn't even remember her name."
"Sunni?" Kairi repeated. She'd been living on the islands for ten years now (or something close to) and she couldn't recall… oh, wait, yes she could. It had been a long time since she'd last seen Sunni but Kairi honestly tried to stay away from her. When Kairi had met her three years ago as a four-year-old the girl just gave her a glare and a pout. Kairi had no idea what she'd done to deserve it. She refused to answer Kairi's questions or remark on her comments and when Sora said somewhat nervously, "I'm sure you'll get along in the future," she snapped back with:
Kairi's impression was that Sunni couldn't be civil.
"Oh, well, I'm sure this will sort itself out, right?" Selphie said. "It's not as though we can really intervene, what with this being all to do with his family."
Tidus sighed and looked a little bit troubled but he pressed on with the conversation nonetheless. "Well, if that's the case then Sora might not come today. Anyone know where Riku is then?"
"Ah… no," Selphie replied.
"Beats me," said Wakka.
"That's… odd…" Kairi muttered, turning to stare at the main island. Sora wasn't coming, Riku wasn't coming… no one would come and get her? Still, she steeled herself and opted to wait until someone came. They couldn't have forgotten her; she wouldn't allow herself to even think that they'd forgotten her.